The Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) received oral and written submissions from the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) and Jamaica Left Alliance for National Democracy and Socialism (Jamaica LANDS), during its ninth meeting yesterday (May 10).
The JLU proposed the following:
- The Constitution should include a guarantee of freedom from discrimination on the ground of language, including the Jamaican Sign Language used by the Deaf community.
- Language should be included as a factor in the Constitution upon which discrimination (direct and indirect) is prohibited.
- Jamaican, alongside English, should be declared official languages.
- Inclusion of provision in the Constitution for the legal recognition of heritage languages of Jamaica.
- Enabling legislation on language should deal with the use of language in public administration, the justice system, and the education system. Such legislation should be guided by the principles contained in the Charter on Language Policy and Language Rights in the Creole-speaking Caribbean.
Jamaica LANDS recommended the following (among other things):
- President: The President should neither be a member of the Cabinet nor a ceremonial figurehead and should be directly elected by the people.
- Prime Minister: The Prime Minister should be removed from office by an order of the President or a majority vote in either House of Parliament.
- Senate: The Senate should be comprised of 25 Senators, with 20 seats allotted based on proportional representation election, and the remaining 5 seats allotted to the candidates who receive the most votes. The President of the Senate is the leader or main candidate of the slate of candidates who wins the most votes.
- House of Representatives: One representative should be elected for each geographic constituency in the country.
These sessions form part of the CRC’s ongoing public engagement and consultation efforts. The CRC is committed to deepen and broaden the consultation process to ensure that the new Constitution reflects the will of the people. Against this background, proposals can be sent via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CRC, through the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, May 17 at 5:00 pm at the St. Mark’s Anglican Church Hall in Mandeville, Manchester.